In Elizabethan terms, ‘planters’ denotes the people who planted colonies, not crops. In particular, it refers to the Annapolis Valley settlers. Their settlements were in the area that was called Nova Scotia and now includes New Brunswick
Nova Scotia Governor Plans for Colonization
Governor Charles Lawrence, responsible for the Acadian expulsion, developed a plan to have English-speaking people settle on the lands made vacant by his actions. He saw New Englanders as the most suitable candidates for those and other valuable properties.
To assure success of his plan, Lawrence was forced to establish an elected legislature. The Assembly which had its first sitting in the Red Chamber in the autumn of 1758 is the oldest in Canada.
On October 12, Lawrence prepared a Proclamation for publication in the Boston Gazette to encourage colonization by English-speaking people. Potential applicants were informed of agencies that would receive their proposals. The widely-read proclamation garnered numerous inquiries from individuals and groups.
Promises Made to New Englanders
With the great influx of immigrants into eastern seaboard towns, land speculation was rife, and most of the best farm land was taken. Unwilling or unable to travel west, people were looking for alternatives.
The second Proclamation issued by Lawrence on January 11, 1759 set out the terms of settlement. They included amount of acreage available for individuals and families and stipulations for cultivation and clearance of lands.
There were also assurances that the court system was the same as that of New England, and that all Protestants would enjoy religious freedom. The government accepted responsibility for paying transportation costs and providing some support for poor families during their first year.
Beginning in April 1759, land agents arrived to look over the areas available and to study the topography and soil. They then recorded requests for allotments on behalf of their clients. Enthusiasm for the endeavour spread with word of the agents’ successful negotiations.
Nova Scotia Settlement by Planters and Pioneers
Fleets of as many as 20 ships sailed in with planters and pioneers seeking free land. Nova Scotia’s population increased by more than 2,000 New England farmers, fishermen, and their families in 1760. The numbers increased greatly during the following years. So, the lands that Acadian families tended for more than 70 years became occupied after five years of vacancy.
An early attempt to settle around Barrington failed because it was cited as a farming area. Unfit for agriculture on a large scale, its real advantage was access and proximity to the sea for fishing.
Even after government funds for transportation were discontinued, there were many more arrivals. Frequently, groups of families travelled in convoys of individual boats.
Edmund and Elizabeth Doane
There were also families that made the treacherous journey alone, including that of Edmund and Elizabeth Doane in 176l. Swept past their destination by a gale, the boat was severely damaged. After finding refuge at Liverpool until spring, the Doanes set sail for Cape Sable Island. The only member of their livestock that survived the ordeal was the old mare.
As Dr. Esther Clark Wright stated in her remarkable history of those settlers, their stories have been largely ignored by historians. She contends that their important contributions have not been “adequately known or emphasized”.